This Just In From The Great White North: Strike!
In British Columbia, public school teachers have been on an illegal strike the last four days, and things are starting to get nasty:
A Supreme Court judge has rejected demands to impose stiff fines for an illegal strike by B.C.'s teachers, opting instead to restrict how their union can spend its cash.A poll commissioned for the B.C. Federation of Labour conducted last Thursday and Friday suggested more than 56 per cent of British Columbians backed the teachers, compared with about 19 per cent who supported the government.
Justice Brenda Brown took control of the B.C. Teachers' Federation's assets and cash for 30 days to ensure neither union funds nor third-party donations can be used to give strikers their $50-a-day picket pay.
Brown appointed a monitor to oversee the 38,000-member union's finances and make sure her order is obeyed. She can also impose fines at a later date, should she decide to do so.
Some 40,000 teachers walked off the job Friday after the government imposed a two-year contract that froze their wages until June 2006, keeping 600,000 students out of the classrooms.
At a rare holiday weekend court hearing, the union was found in contempt of a Labour Relations Board back-to-work order.
Teachers want a 15-per-cent wage increase, better working conditions, including smaller class sizes, and restoration of full bargaining rights.
It's the fourth time since 1993 that the government has imposed a contract on the province's teachers.
Interestingly, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reports that teachers lost the right to strike back in 2001 when the public education system was declared an "essential service."
My guess is that some sort of compromise settlement between the union and the government will be reached over the weekend.